I thought I might mention the P word to my teacher tomorrow morning. Any advice about appropriate footwear? Our current organist seems to wear what look like ordinary shoes, although I've also seen her wearing slipper socks. Is there anything I should particularly avoid?
Posted 16 May 2018 - 16:36
My teacher told me just to wear socks, but in a cooooold church in winter you run a real risk of frost-bitten toes! Iron hitch-down swell-pedals at sub-zero temperatures are truly horrible. Also it looks a bit odd if you have to leave your console for any reason, and if the pedal-board is badly designed and/or has sharp edges on the keys, stubbed toes are painful. None of the parish organists in my home practice parish (as opposed to church where teacher played) had special shoes, they just wore what they wore.
Posted 16 May 2018 - 17:04
I wear cheap canvas/plimsoll type shoes which can be bought at most high street shoe shops for £10 or less. I find them comfortable and they serve the purpose well.
Posted 16 May 2018 - 17:20
I can't play just in socks - it hurts! When I've felt lazy I've tried to play wearing trainers or boots but it's no good - it's like trying to play piano wearing leather gloves.
Something with a smooth sole is best - too much friction with rubber soles, I find. Just find a frumpy pair of flat shoes that are not too wide; ballet pumps are ok as long as they fit well and don't slip off as can happen if your feet are cold. Can't do with any kind of heel either, even though pukka Organmaster shoes appear to have them.
Posted 16 May 2018 - 17:41
Posted 16 May 2018 - 18:13
Many top organists swear by special 'organmaster' shoes.........http://store.organmastershoes.com/
I have never felt the need to use these , and have played the organ regularly in churches from age 13 (to 71) and have a Grade 8 (back in 1964) I use my ordinary day shoes (usually Clarks) with a fairly small heel. Some play in socks. The Organmasters have quite a big heel. I do avoid shoes with a wide 'mudguard' (some call it a welt) round. You may like to watch this also......https://www.youtube....h?v=kJ1fikfCU2E.
I'd say just use what seems to work best for you !
Posted 16 May 2018 - 19:41
I second fsharpminor's advice. I have a pair of Organmasters, which I find great for the reasons mentioned in the video, but for years I used ordinary, everyday shoes, either with leather soles (which glide more easily but are not so durable if you wear them all the time) or rubber soles. Rubber soles only work if they they are thin enough for you to feel the pedals and have the lightest of treads which wear down quickly to a smooth surface. Soles with a deep tread are to be avoided at all costs.
Posted 16 May 2018 - 20:03
Both the size of your feet and the design of the pedalboard need to be considered. When I first started (in my 50s) played in my socks, but with smallish feet (size 5) and a flat pedalboard, my feet got tired - doing heel and toe was quite a stretch and I ended up with sharp pains in the sole of my foot. For small feet a heel reduces the angle between naturals and black notes, and makes it easier to play intervals of a third, while a proper sole supports the tendons. Shoes also protect against stubbed toes which can really hurt!
When I was looking for shoes the fashions weren't suitable - square toes and large welts - but "character shoes" from dance shops were the answer. They have suede soles which have just the right amount of friction. You can buy canvas ones quite cheaply, such as these low heel ones or with cuban heel. I got the cuban heel though the heel is a little on the narrow side. If you have a standard concave radiating pedalboard then the ones with the low but wider heel might do better. If you don't like the pink elastic strap you could tone it down with a magic marker.
I eventually treated myself to a pair of Organmasters and find them very good, but they are not cheap.
Posted 16 May 2018 - 21:00
I have had several conversations about organ shoes with my son's teacher. My son is 12 and his feet have grown at least 4 sizes in the 2 years since he started organ ...
On his recommendation we have successfully found suitable shoes in charity shops, though I may invest in specific organ shoes once my son's feet stop growing, with a bit of luck this may not be far off.
A smooth sole under the toe has been the minimum criteria, and as narrow as practical ie no "bumper". Men's dance shoes are apparently ideal.
For women I'd absolutely agree with dance shops for finding shoes - I realised, dabbling a bit myself a few years ago, that my "good" shoes made to order by a dance shop (I've got long feet so hard to find normal women's dress shoes), are absolutely perfect.
Enjoy your next lessons!!
Posted 17 May 2018 - 12:57
WelI....I learnt how to locate my feet, and managed a C major scale with the pedals, although the shoes I wore were probably not the best choice. My teacher recommended wearing a different pair every time, until I hit on what works best.
Such a fun lesson. When I go in to practise, I always opt for the quietest registration possible, as I would rather not be overheard in these early days. But in today's lesson we worked on making a really BIG sound with the Principal and 4' stops - WOW! I am really enjoying this!
(We should really have a pipe organ smilie!)
Posted 17 May 2018 - 14:20
I second the recommendation for dance shoes - my OH wore out his first pair of dance shoes (we're lucky to have a dance shop in the town), and I invested in some Organmaster shoes for his birthday one year. They seem to be lasting well.
Posted 17 May 2018 - 15:53
I bought organmasters early on when just starting 3-4 years ago and never looked back. The only problem I've had is about a year ago the inner lining coming unglued and edges of the suede coming up a little. I took it to a shoe repair place to have it all touched up. No problems since.